Soil Conservation: What it is and Why you as a Land Owner Should Implement It.

The Dust Bowl was the catalyst behind a 60-year endeavor in farming: soil conservation. The soil conservation movement was a result of the droughts during the 1930s, the effects of water erosion, the terrific dust storms created by wind erosion in the Great Plains, and by the urging of Hugh Hammond Bennett. In 1935, the Soil Conservation Service , led by Bennett, was established as a permanent agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture . Today there are more than 3,000 soil conservation districts in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In 1994, the Soil Conservation Service was renamed Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Your local NRCS District can visit your farm and offer recommendations about which management practices will help improve the quality of your local streams. Landowners apply to local NRCS Districts, which assist in developing farm conservation plans and ensure projects are necessary and feasible.

Soil Conservation helps keep the environment in good working order, which helps provide clean air, food, shelter, clothing and living space which we all need and use. Therefore, soil conservation is as important as any other form of conservation that attempts to safeguard the environment and improve the quality of life of all living beings. Soil conservation aims to prevent the rapid erosion by the two most important agents of erosion, wind and water, especially as their effects are intensified by the disturbance of natural cover or soil position and overuse of soil. Soil conservation is a combination of all methods of management and land use that safeguard the soil against depletion or deterioration by natural or man-induced factors and can help to keep soils fertile and healthy.

Soil conservation practices such as:
1- crop rotation
2- cover crops
3- windbreaks
4- contour plowing
5- conservation plowing

-to name a few were massively developed and set forth upon recovering from the drought experiences of the thirties. It is also the protection of soil against excessive loss of fertility by natural, chemical, or artificial means. A variety of soil conservation practices are used and many of these soil conservation efforts have been practiced for hundreds of years. Others are more recent. In many if not most cases, these efforts have been based upon soil management practices which, while at the time seeming to be beneficial, in the long run were proven to not to be the case, and in some instances led to problems and disasters of epic proportions.

Implementing various soil conservation strategies and methods can help in stemming erosion of the soil, in preserving the quality of the soil and in increasing its productive capacity. Improved crop yield, soil conservation, and plant breeding are some of the impacts seen. There are probably more soil conservation methods in use in the world today than many people realize. Planting Vegetation is one of the most effective and cost saving soil conservation strategies. Crop rotation can also be used assist in soil conservation and is the soil conservation method where a series of different crops are planted one after the other in the same soil area. To improve wildlife habitat, soil conservation practices such as providing buffer strips and windbreaks, or replacing soil organic matter, greatly enhance the quality of the environment for wildlife of all kinds. Another soil conservation technique is the planting of crops specifically grown to provide soil cover. Local landowners take part in soil conservation efforts despite its many challenges.

Data has also allowed evaluation of a number of soil conservation methodologies, which have met with farmer acceptance in some areas by comparing the soil and water loss with that from common farmer practice and from bare soil. Soil conservation is proven to increase the quality and quantity of crop yields over the long term because it keeps topsoil in its place and preserves the long term productivity of the soil. Farmers and landowners should do all they can feasibly do to implement soil conservation practices.

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